While normally a four-game road trip that ends with one win, a loss and two draws is looked upon as above average in MLS these days, it’s of little consolation to D.C. United after their 0-0 draw tonight at Red Bull Arena. With United losing eight of it’s first nine matches this season, their recent modest run of two wins, a loss and three draws still has them hovering near the bottom of MLS and time is starting to run out on the Black-and-Red. While playoff elimination is still technically a long ways off, what is apparent with United is their lack of offense this season. With tonight’s shutout, United has incredibly not scored in 10 of their 14 MLS matches this season. That’s not exactly a recipe for success but what is also apparent right now with United is that they are indeed playing more cohesive and better defensively as evident by tonight’s excellent defensive performance.
Juan Pablo Angel, long Red Bull’s most dangerous player for four seasons now and usually a United killer, was smothered by the central defensive pairing of Dejan Jakovic and Julius James. James in particular seemed to frustrate the entire Red Bull attack as his lunging tackles and physical play dominated the match. Angel had scored in four consecutive matches but hardly had a look at goal this evening as the Black-and-Red garnered their second defensive clean sheet of the season.
Truth be told, both teams struggled to put together any quality chances to score. United’s best chance was a tough-angled bid by Santino Quaranta in the 6th minute that was parried away by Red Bull goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. United had a handful of promising efforts that either were hopeful long-range efforts or passing sequences that fizzled out in the last third of the field, a season long problem which mostly explains the teams lack of goalscoring this season. Red Bulls chances weren’t much better either as Troy Perkins only had to make two routine saves all evening long.
As it happens though, United did finish their longest road trip of the season with 5 points in 4 matches and with the team struggling to score goals, that seems quite a feat at this point of the season. Up next for United is a long awaited return to RFK Stadium on Thursday night when they entertain Seattle Sounders FC. This match will be live on ESPN2 starting at 8pm EST